Miami schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho rejected Mayor de Blasio’s job offer at a dramatic Miami school board meeting Thursday.
Residents and educators at the fawning public hearing had begged the outgoing Miami-Dade County superintendent not to leave the job he’s held for a decade.
But Carvalho was already taking some heat in New York for his outsize salary, which would be 50% higher than current Chancellor Carmen Fariña’s.
City educators were also buzzing over accusations that Carvalho had an affair with a young reporter a decade ago when he was an assistant superintendent in Miami.
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Still, City Hall was all-in on Carvhalo until the stunning twist ending — defending the giant pay disparity as worth it to get the “best.”
Speaking in Miami, Carvalho, a Portuguese immigrant who came from a poor family, stuck to lofty themes and also spoke out against arming teachers.
“I want our teachers to put a mark on a board, to grade a paper, to inspire, to teach, to love, to lead, but not to carry a weapon,” Carvalho said in his soaring speech.
“Now it the time for the agenda to be the agenda of kids, not something else,” he added. “Now is the time for us to put children first, to really put children first.”
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Carvalho, 53, gave a passionate, 20-minute speech in which said he received 500 calls and 500 text messages overnight after news broke that de Blasio had offered him the job.
Then he announced he would take a five-minute break, but he disappeared from the meeting for far longer than that.
And when he returned, he hinted that he might not take the job.
“I have made a decision,” said Carvalho, who implied that he couldn’t reach de Blasio during his break. “I just don’t know how to break a promise to a child; to a community.”
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Eventually he said he would pass on the job.
“I’m making this decision not on the basis of what is opportunistic and best for me but out of honor and respect for this community,” said Carvalho.
“Thank you Mayor de Blasio for your trust and I am sorry that our short-term friendship did not evolve beyond conversations of what is best for our communities.”
In Spanish, Carvalho said he had two conversations with de Blasio that were “quick, but very direct, very professional, with a lot of emotion.”
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De Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips reacted to the surprise news on Twitter by bashing the Miami superintendent.
“He was a Yes for a week+, until he was No 15 minutes ago. Bullet dodged,” Phillips tweeted. “Who would ever hire this guy again? Who would ever vote for him?”
Carvalho’s about-face was a stunning embarrassment for de Blasio, who publicly announced that Carvalho would be taking the job. Not only was he proven wrong, he’ll now have to return to his lengthy search for someone to replace Fariña.
“The bigger problem isn’t the embarrassment to New York, it’s that every other top-tier educator would feel second-rate if he or she takes the job now,” one former city official said on the condition of anonymity.
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To add insult to injury, Carvalho stood up de Blasio after the mayor’s office spent much of the morning trying to defend the decision to pay him a whopping $353,000 — $118,000 more than current Chancellor Carmen Fariña, a woman and veteran city educator, and enough to match up with his salary in Miami.
That raised eyebrows — because of the giant pay gap between the two educators of different genders, and because it was the same as Carvalho’s salary in Miami. De Blasio signed a law that makes it illegal for employers in New York to ask an applicant’s salary, because basing their pay on their last paycheck can widen the gender gap. Carvalho’s Miami salary is public information and the mayor’s spokesman, Eric Phillips, said the city did not ask for it.
“The Miami salary was disclosed, and his new salary negotiated, by the applicant. It wasn’t solicited by the administration, nor was his salary history factored into our agreeing to the figure,” Phillips said.
But Carvalho flat-out said de Blasio had offered to match his salary.
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“Mayor de Blasio was willing to do something that was never considered before,” he said. “He was willing to match my base salary in Miami to get me to New York City.”
Speaking to the press in Spanish, Carvalho said it was conversations he’d had in the last 18 hours that changed his mind and prompted him to stay — particularly with two undocumented immigrant students who said that they felt he had protected them.
“Without me, they felt like they didn’t have anyone to protect them,” he said.
Parents and advocates had criticized the mayor’s search for chancellor as not being open enough — and Council Mark Treyger, the education committee chair, noted he had not been consulted.
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“As I have stated before, the best decisions are the most informed decisions, and in order to make informed decisions, you have to involve critical stakeholders who have vested interests in making our schools succeed,” Treyger said. “And I look forward to being part of the discussion of who will eventually accept that position of being chancellor of the largest school systems in the country.”
The tide of public opinion seemed to turn almost immediately against Carvalho in New York. Not long after Phillips’ tweets, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams offered up a book recommendation for Carvalho: “You Blew It.”
The sub-title? “An Awkward Look at the Many Ways in Which You’ve Already Ruined Your Life.”
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